Ocean Park Notebook

By Rick Barot

The worker’s pants on a spider-filament line,
strung waist to waist to waist to dry.
The neat green wedge of park, always empty;
the length of concrete paced by convalescents.
The lead impastos of interesting weather,
though mostly the shadowless blue of long days.
The sprawl of water beyond the band of beach,
copper or tinfoil depending on
the sun coming down, the moon rising.
The storefront and the thumb of hydrant
in front of it, in all kinds of light
solidly composed and unspeculative.
The garage’s brick side facing a warehouse wall;
between them, the alley’s cold black aisle.
The swells of a scalloped awning;
the sheetlike descent of streetwise birds.
Tubercular with rust, the flue leaking steam.
And behind the blind-eye panes, the figure
who must have chosen to be here.
At a window someone watches for daybreak,
which begins for him with a spar of sun
lighting a stringcourse on the opposite building,
its tendrils and blooms freshly chiseled
or mildewed, chalky with soot, when the overcast
will not pull back from the day.
Hobbled now, but still ardent, wandering,
he looks at the postcards showing the city
and its lit grids, touches mangoes going soft
in crates, and listens always for
the murmurings: An object, after all,
is what makes infinity private. Spare a dollar
for a lobotomy? Everything taken up, pocketed,
added to an accrual having less to do with weight
than with lightness: the plane of a wall,
say, with pink stucco rough as emery,
and the little fish, green as muscat grapes,
selling out at a dime a dozen.
Fender-chrome, gravel molars, brittle sepals
holding up the dead rose, the bottle collecting
rain—a precise light found for each
like the faded brown for leaves,
ground-down crystal for frost. The formless
moil of paint, spread into surface, depicts
the day exact. So with the persimmons
almost forgotten into ordinariness, the moons
of candle-wax on the table—things clearer somehow
for entering the orange, brown, and white
I make use of. Rising, I am elated by the light
on cold red leaves and on successive clouds,
each one edge-lit, its heart incinerate.
And the light makes use of me in ways
only line, curve, and shadow can describe,
drawn toward what pity or love that the day,
emptied but unsubdued, gives in to:
Every day he poured himself into it,
as water might pour from a flask.

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